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In THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER, Mara loses all her friends in a traumatic accident that she has no memory of. When her father is assigned a new case in Florida, Mara is forced to go to a new private school, where she falls for the school womanizer.
This book feels like a YA version of Shutter Island. You know that something's wrong the entire time, but you can't quite put your finger on it.
Sadly, unlike in said movie, you won't be hitting your head and saying Damn It, I knew it!- you'll most likely be still confused.
A Slumberous Romance
Aside from the mystery around what happens to Mara, her relationship to Noah takes up a big chunk of the novel. I didn't want Mara and Noah to hook up, I didn't even care about those two, I just wanted more flashback scenes so I could make a sense of what happened to Mara.
Noah is just very unlikeable. He's a walking cliché. British bad boy who's not only filthy rich, but oh-so-interested in creepy Mara, who spends days doodling his face before she even really knows him. It's your typical school-heartthrob falling for the shy girl thing. No one likes that, unless you're maybe 11. Also boyfriends who beat up other guys for you aren't romantic. They're scary.
Mara as a protagonist absolutely had me from the beginning. I love her way of narrating the story and she has a clear, strong character voice that's not very intrusive and pleasant. She's funny, she's a little bit sarcastic and she's not afraid to admit that there's something wrong with her. Still, she fits into the category of the paranormal romance shy girls that is so frowned upon. Mara doesn't have any self-esteem issues, but doesn't call herself pretty either- still, every guy in this novel seems to think she is the reincarnation of a goddess walking the earth.
But I don't want to put it down?!
The story sucks you in from the first chapter and you have to continue. Hodkin cleverly decorates the story with flashbacks to before the accident in uneven intervals, so you never know when you're going to find the next puzzle piece. .
The scary thing about it isn't ghosts or monsters or anything, but the way you're feeling like you're going insane with Mara. For some people it's just bad writing to make everything so confusing and I fully understand that some people don't connect to this novel.
Essentially it's a mystery novel that absolutely sucks you in. It doesn't have the best writing style, but I couldn't put it down. I had high hopes, but sadly, the resolution is not what I expected. False advertising- this novel is just your average YA paranormal romance, lacking in the paranormal and trying to confuse you with irritating and misleading passages that are written off as hallucinations.
Overall: Do I Recommend?
The resolution isn't shocking, but it's the road there that's interesting. The main thing that this novel builds on is confusing the reader. I didn't fall for it and easily lost interest.
I hesitate to recommend it to anyone, because I had such a hard time liking Noah, and especially Noah and Mara together. They don't make sense as a couple and it truly feels like CARRIE - he's only figuratively taking the awkward girl to prom so he can dump a bucket of pig blood over her head.
"Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.